Sleepaway Camp 3: Teenage Wasteland

Reviewed By Scott Weinberg
Posted 05/03/04 20:33:28

"Lacks the subtle nuance and deftly intricate... OK, lotsa dead teens. Enjoy"
2 stars (Pretty Bad)

If you dropped 50 cents into a candy machine and it gave you the Snickers bar you wanted, it would hardly be fair to complain that you didn’t get steak. Such is the case with "Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland", a movie that should only be viewed by those who enjoyed the first two entries - or those with a liking for silly C-grade slasher mayhem.

Picking up two years after the gore-strewn Unhappy Campers, the third entry opens in a surprising locale: it’s not the woods! This urban-bound prologue serves as a re-introduction to our favorite transsexual Angela, as she dispatches an unlucky camper before she even gets on the bus! Angela assumes the identity of the ill-fated Maria, and once again we’re off to 70-some minutes of tree-laden carnage.

The camp this time around is ‘New Horizons’, an experimental program that aims to bring together the upper crust and the financially deprived. That’s all window-dressing, because as far as Angela is concerned, the rich are as sinful as the poor. Therefore, all must die, many in some ridiculously brutal fashion. (Highlights this time around include a tent-spike to the forehead, death by flagpole, and one sloppy haircut via lawnmower.)

Pamela Springsteen (once again, YES she’s Bruce’s sister!) is a royal hoot as the bloodthirsty (yet strangely decent) lunatic, and her performance in both films is a testament to what an ‘amateur’ actress can accomplish when she’s clearly aware of how stupid her movies really are. Of relative interest is the presence of a bona-fide character actor (a first for this series) named Michael J. Pollard. Every movie freak in the universe knows who Pollard is, so it’s nice to see a familiar face among all the sneering non-actors inhabiting the ‘eventual corpse’ roles.

Much like they did in the previous outing, director Michael Sampson and screenwriter Fritz Gordon jam a lot of humor (some subtle, most silly) in between the non-stop bloodletting, and Angela dispatches her victims with an assembly-line sensibility. Though it’s a silly and cheap affair, Teenage Wasteland moves along at a fairly brisk clip (a few boring bits are easily remedied by way of your FF button) and delivers precisely what the slasher fans like most: lots of nasty jerks being killed in a cartoonishly silly style. Think of the Sleepaway Camp trilogy as a live-action version of the “Itchy & Scratchy” cartoons that the Simpson kids love so much.

This DVD comes as part of Anchor Bay’s 3-disc “Sleepaway Camp Survival Kit”, which includes all three films - each with its own commentary track and small handful of extras - and comes housed in a rather cool slide-out case that looks like a First-Aid kit covered in blood. Once again, the fine folks at Anchor Bay deliver the goods for all us 30-year-old gorehounds.

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